By Kevin McPherson
LITTLE ROCK — Every year there seems to be an Arkansas hooper who rises from the ranks of the relatively unknown to become a national recruit.
Last spring and summer it was class of 2019 prospect Issac McBride of Little Rock (Baptist Prep and 17U Joe Johnson Hawks), whose mercurial climb one weekend in late July in Las Vegas parlayed him a Kansas offer, and he ultimately signed with the Jayhawks. This year, that guy appears to be 2020 prospect Khalen “KK” Robinson (6-1 combo guard, Bryant), although for him it’s been more than just one huge weekend as his consistent stellar play on the biggest national stages beginning in April has high-major programs across the country taking notice.
His week started Monday, May 27, with an unofficial visit to TCU of the Big 12 conference — Robinson recently picked up a scholarship offer from the Frogs, his first high-major offer. On Thursday, he heard from coaches from Kansas. On Friday, he spoke with Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman.
“He (Musselman) said he’s excited for (Arkansas’s) staff to watch me play this summer,” said Robinson, who picked up his second high-major offer Sunday night from Illinois.
Robinson — he also holds offers from mid-majors Arkansas State, Texas-El Paso, Louisiana Tech, Missouri State, Southern Miss, and Appalachian State — has been one of the best guards playing on the ultra-competitive Nike EYBL circuit, which has led to a flood of high-major interest. In addition to his Frogs and Illni offers and Hogs and Jayhawks interest, Robinson is drawing interest from Virginia Tech, Clemson, Oklahoma State, and Houston.
His stat line playing on the 2019 Nike EYBL circuit is impressive: 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.3 steals through 13 games while helping his 17U Pro Skills (TX) squad qualify for the prestigious Nike Peach Jam championship tournament in July.
Arkansas coaches watched Robinson play at the Nike EYBL session in Atlanta the weekend of April 26-28 — the only live evaluation period so far for NCAA Division 1 coaches. A few days later on May 1, Arkansas staff coach Hays Meyers made an on-campus visit to Bryant to see Robinson.
Robinson’s backcourt teammate on 17U Pro Skills (TX) is 2020 Micah Peavey (6-5 wing, Duncanville, TX, ESPN national No. 40 / 4-star prospect, who currently holds an Arkansas offer. The duo makes up arguably the toughest backcourt in grassroots basketball.
“It’s just great,” Robinson said of playing with Peavy. “I feed off of him, he feeds off of me. It’s just a great feeling to have someone who can score the ball like that, and also a great friend off the court.”
Robinson will have up to three or four more live evaluation periods for D1 coaches to watch him play: Two high-school scholastic events in late June, a Nike curcuit event in mid-July, and possibly an NCAA-sanctioned event in late July.
Should Robinson eventually pick up an Arkansas offer, he’d join 2020 prospects Moses Moody (6-5 shooting guard, Little Rock native, ESPN national No. 22 / 5-star prospect), Jaylin Williams (6-10 forward / center, Fort Smith Northside, Rivals.com national No. 100 / 4-star prospect), and Chris Moore (6-6 combo forward, West Memphis, national 4-star prospect) to form the largest single class of in-state Hog offers (4) in years.
As a high school junior in 2018-19, Robinson led Bryant in scoring as the Hornets won the 6A-Central conference title before suffering a close loss in the 6A state title game against Williams and Northside in March. He was named Most Valuable Player in the 3A state title game as a freshman in ’16-17 after leading Episcopal Collegiate to it’s first state basketball championship.
Robinson is arguably the best two-way (offense and defense) guard in Arkansas. The lefty has plus-arm-length for his height, he’s a good athlete, and his on-ball defense can be suffocating. Steady, consistent, and reliable, Robinson has a nice pace as a ball-handler and he does not force his own offense as he’s a willing and capable facilitator for others. He’s an efficient 3-point shooter and he’s a determined slasher who finishes with toughness. He’s also clutch having knocked down his fair share of game-winners in high school and in grassroots play, and he’s a dependable free throw shooter (including down the stretch in tight games).
Linked below are a few recent highlight reels of Robinson in action …
“’20 Arkansas interest Khalen “KK” Robinson @onekrob2 (6-1 CG, Bryant) made 4-of-4 FTs in the final minute, incl these two w/9 seconds left that iced 17U Pro Skills’ 85-82 win Sunday over 17U Phenom U at Nike EYBL Session 3 in DFW … KK’s game at both ends sentillating throughout https://t.co/w1x2RG8CKe”
“Go ahead, take one more step on that weak closeout & watch me blow by to get it at the cup! ’20 Arkansas interest Khalen “KK” Robinson @onekrob2 (6-1 CG, Bryant) has 17U Pro Skills on top of 17U Phenom, 74-72, late 4th Q at Nike EYBL session in DFW … https://t.co/JejTzzpMtg”
“U say U wanna wipe out my driving bucket?! Then I gotcha with a corner 3-ball … ’20 Arkansas interest Khalen “KK” Robinson @onekrob2 (6-1 CG, Bryant) … KK recently picked up a TCU offer … https://t.co/kTjgxqMegp”
“’20 Arkansas interest Khalen “KK” Robinson @onekrob2 of Bryant rifles a pass in transition to ’20 Arkansas offer Micah Peavy @mjpv5 , then KK rebs Micah’s miss before diming to another teammate … during Saturday action at Nike EYBL session in DFW … https://t.co/lVMbC3bgzt”
“’20 Arkansas interest Khalen “KK” Robinson @onekrob2 (6-1 CG, Bryant) just busted ’em up w/a big 3-bomb, but 17U Pro Skills trails 17U PSA Cardinals, 65-54, at the end of the 3rd Q on Saturday at Nike EYBL session in DFW … https://t.co/fxc9G6ISWr”